SOLON— Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought Dairy Queen in 1998, and after that, it became easy to associate the purveyor of dairy treats, Coca-Cola, burgers, hot dogs and fries company with his corporate governance. It is our local outlet in the industrial food chain with ties to the deepest memories of growing up in the late 1950s and 1960s, when the stores closed down at the end of each season— the owners packing it in for Florida or other warm places to avoid Iowa winters. Like a sundae topped with Buffett’s intellectual construct.
I stopped on my way to the county seat to get a vanilla cone. I was loathe to do so because the restaurant is less about food and more about the cognitive dissonance created when juxtaposing childhood memories with a strip mall experience. If I dined at our Dairy Queen on fare other than cones and Dilly Bars, the experience was forgettable.
Six illuminated menu boards above the transfer space from the kitchen to the order prep area display the offerings. There has not been much change in the staple lunch and dinner items since they were developed. The changes in food occur in the supply chain leading up to this Buffett cultural outlet.
On the positive side, the staff was friendly, courteous and efficient. I had my cone in a matter of minutes and the cool, soft experience evoked memories the way a Madeleine might over tea. Perhaps that’s the point.
The trip to Dairy Queen is one I delayed for as long as possible on the restaurant crawl. Except for memories, there is little reason to stop by, even if locals have made ours one of the longer term restaurant successes in town. There are likely other Buffett outlets in town, but none so conspicuous as this summer treat full of memory tainted by its association with the fifth largest company in the world. It is part of our small town dining experience, where the food is local, but not “local.”